I spent much of today, marked “Canada Day” on my digital calendar, in deep thought. While I’m proud to be a Canadian, and very thankful to call this country home, what I have learned over past years about our history has given me pause. Facts that have been revealed, little by little, were put under glaring spotlights recently, when some of the dear, innocent children, buried at forced confinement institutions, were at last found.
This afternoon I finished my second reading of Invisible North: The Search for Answers on a Troubled Reserve by Alexandra Shimo. Shimo, a Toronto-based journalist, made a plan to spend several months living on the Kashechewan reserve to research a water problem. What resulted is part memoir, part history, and she gives first-hand insight about life on that reservation.
I highlighted as I read, and I’d like to share pieces of her book with you. Although long, what follows are just a few words that taught, shocked, and broke my heart. Putting myself in place of the people who must live with these injustices, I wonder what kind of person I would be now if I’d experienced a fraction of what so many live with daily.
” . . . from the nineteenth century onwards, First Nations were confined to poverty in six ways. They were moved away from mineral wealth. They were displaced from natural resources including forest, lakes, and rivers. They had their land stolen through “theft” and “fraud”. They were stopped from establishing their own industries on traditional land. They were obstructed from opening other businesses. They were excluded from jobs off-reserve through racism.
“If you take away a community’s ability to generate resources, and then remove an individual’s ability tyo make money, then . . . you end up with the current situation of First Nations: racialized poverty. . . . Ninety-two of Canada’s one hundred poorest communities are Aboriginal, according to Statistics Canada.” Continue reading “July 1, 2021”